There is a kind of a human duty which can never be fulfilled properly; even when people think that there is no clash with another duty, but if you really examine, any state of duty, you will find that there are clashes of duties. There are clashes between one principle of action and the other principle of action, at different levels different kinds of actions would be justified. The search for the Truth, the necessity of the search for the Truth may collide with Buddha's duty to his kingdom and to his wife and the child; the search for the Truth is of a greater value. Therefore, Sri Krishna says, `There is like a divine obligation, not a human duty, there is a divine obligation'. Unless you find out the supreme command, not the call of the duty which are only human command, which are based upon ordinary concepts of relationship between man and man; and duty can exists only when you do not have the idea of God. You decide only upon the human relationships to maintain your human life properly, you require certain rules of actions; and as long as you remain in that field, duty may have a justifiable place, but the human life is not made only for human arrangement of things. Human life itself is a result of a greater scheme.
Therefore unless and until you reach the highest state of the divine consciousness, you cannot really do what is the right thing to be done. That right thing may be disobedience to your duty as in the case of the Buddha: he did not perform his duty, went away to the Tapasya. It may be fulfilment of duty also: there may be not necessarily a conflict between your duty as a human being considered from the human point of view, and the divine obligation; there may not be. But even when the two coincides, you perform whatever was prescribed by duty, not because it is prescribed as a duty but because you have discovered the will of the divine. And how are you sure that it is the will of the divine? And Sri Krishna's answer is, `until you have reached the point where you feel complete freedom of action, and until you find action proceeding from that state of freedom, you have not entered into the gates of the divine work'. Work is certainly the gospel of the Gita, you must work but what work? It is not the human work. The gospel of the Gita is the gospel of `divine work' and the divine work can be discovered only when you reach the highest of knowledge which gives you a complete peace within yourself, complete devotion to the divine and then the work that proceed from `this' state, it is `that' work which is enjoined by the Gita.
Now, these are the general statements which we can make regarding the core of the teaching; and if you want to sum up the whole thing very briefly, it can be said as follows: an individual must begin upwards wherever he is, according to his
predominant inclination, and since every individual in any sense is always engaged in some activity, as Sri Krishna says, `nobody can remain without doing some activity or the other'. Therefore, it is best to start with activity, and do the Karma Yoga. And what is the meaning of Karma Yoga? To change the very motive of action, to change the direction of action. Whatever activity you do, outwardly it may remain the same, but inwardly the `motive' of action and the `direction' of action and ultimately even the `form' and the `scope' of action will change.
The motive of action in order to change it, you have to pass the three stages: the first stage is won where you do not desire the enjoyment of the fruit of action. This is the first stage, mimimrantama: §ai ', of changing the very motive and direction of action: `inwardly, do not try to enjoy the fruits of action' on the proposition that you have no right to the fruits of action: you can enjoy something over which you have right, but you have no right over the fruits of action. At this stage you can be allowed to have a right to action, at this stage, in the first stage. That is why the statement:
karmaoy evadhikaras te ma phaleou kadacana,(II. 47), "To action alone has thou the right, but not to the fruits of action".
And this is regarded as very often as the mahavakya, the last gospel of the Bhagavad-Gita, but this is not the last statement of the Gita, it is a statement of the Gita at one stage of development, and you might say the very first stage of the development, because latter on, Sri Krishna says, "you have no right even to action". In the first stage he says, "You have no right to the fruit of action".
But secondly, Sri Krishna says, "you have no right even to action itself". He says the whole action itself is a huge machine, a huge Prakriti is at work and you are a small form in the machine. What you think is your work is actually the consequence of the huge machine of universal action, so you have no right even to action.
Therefore, in the second stage do not regard your action as your action. And offer the action to the divine from whom ultimately all actions proceeds. Because even behind the universal machine of action, there is a supreme will from where the actions proceeds; therefore whatever action you are doing do not claim it is your action; you offer it to the divine and also consider that God is the doer.
That is right, this is the third step; second you offer to the divine; third step is when you `perceive', not only `believe' but you 'perceive' that God is the doer. But before you can perceive that God is the doer, you have to pass through a stage of Jnana Yoga: this is where the Jnana Yoga enters into the entire scheme of the synthesis of Yoga. We may start with action and you can successfully arrive at a point where you can go on offering action to the divine, but then the question will arise: who is the divine? And therefore, the knowledge of the divine becomes necessary. So, it is in this second stage that Jnana Yoga becomes necessary. And when you come to know what is divine, you discover that it is at once Akshara and Kshara; and you can see that you can also enter into complete immobility, and can become completely free from action. It is at this point that you are required to go beyond it, beyond immobility. And when you try to go beyond immobility, Bhakti Yoga starts; because when you approach the divine who is not only immobile and also mobile and the ruler and master of the world, then you begin to unite yourself as a soul, as a child of God with the divine. The real Bhakti begins to operate at this stage. So, the true knowledge of the divine also cannot come without that devotion, the full knowledge of the divine; intimate knowledge of the divine cannot come without devotion; you can know the divine as immobile without devotion, but if you want an integral knowledge of the divine, you cannot have it without devotion. Therefore, the third step is to enter into a state of devotion to the divine. When you do that, then you begin to see the divine as the doer; because now you have got the heart of God as it were, from where the action really proceeds.